To begin understanding why we are such proponents of Security Awareness and Security Culture, we should first explain what these terms mean.
Security Awareness means engaging with the people in your business to educate them on relevant security threats and instilling good practices and behaviours that reduce organisational risk. This should be the basic level of security education within an organisation. Awareness is augmented with Training to create more expertise in the employees who need it.
Security Training, as explained above, goes beyond simple awareness. Some people in your organisation have greater access to sensitive systems and data, or they are in charge of tasks that make them more likely to come into contact with something that poses a security risk. These people need more targeted training that gives them the essential understanding of how to stay safe.
Security Culture, on the other hand, encompasses the set of values on security that are shared by an organisation. Sounds quite similar to security awareness, eh? Well, it’s actually quite different. One way of articulating the difference between Awareness and Culture is that Awareness will give people an understanding of a specific topic within security, while Culture is something that provides the underlying values that will help address any security risk.
For clarity’s sake, for the rest of this blog post, we’ll use the term Security Awareness to refer to culture and training, too.
Increasingly, organisations are held to a higher standard of security by both customers and legislators. Addressing the basics using a guide like the Cyber Essentials is no longer enough. So, what can you as an IT Leader do to beat the curve and create a significant improvement in security?
Well, we believe that focusing on Security Awareness is just the thing for achieving this. It has a number of tangible benefits – here are four you should consider:
#1 It improves the behaviours of staff, lowering the frequency of security breaches.
You may have some great security technologies at your disposal, but these systems only address the specific threats they were designed to tackle, whereas better behaviours can help avoid threats that these systems can’t.
So, Security Awareness can really improve your defences. By addressing behaviour, you reduce the likely incidence of security breaches by staff. The fewer laptops left on trains, phishing links clicked, documents sent to the wrong recipient and company information posted on social media, the more time and resources you have for managing additional risks, like those originating from a customer facing web platforms.
#2 You’ll find out about security threats much faster.
This is because Security Awareness will provide people with the knowledge they need to recognise and report suspicious events.
Not everything can be detected by technology, especially if you don’t have the budget of some of the bigger organisations. That’s why you need people on your team who are capable of recognising security risks as they arise.
There are some truly scary examples of threats not being recognised by staff. For example, in the Food and Accommodation sector, threats go undiscovered for several months in 96% of cases and are typically only discovered by external sources or by law enforcement. This is where solid Security Awareness can make all the difference.
#3 Improve services or products for customers.
As staff come to understand common security threats and how to avoid them, the people involved in designing new products and implementing new services naturally consider security implications from the beginning of the design process, which leads to Privacy by Design and makes things safer for all of us. As the old adage goes, be the change you want to see in the world.
#4: Improved efficiency and resource use.
If you still needed convincing on Security Awareness, studies show that better organisational cultures lead to more profitable companies. This includes Security Culture. If security is a priority for your organisation, and people have a simple set of values to help guide them, the whole process of embedding good security practices becomes much more efficient. You’ll spend less time making sure that projects follow good security practice. And so, you’ll reduce project delay.
Here are just four reasons why you should seriously consider implementing Security Awareness, Training and Culture in your organisation. Do you agree with our points? We would love to hear from you. If you’d like to learn more about optimising security within your organisation, do drop us a line.